Drysuit longevity

-- Last Updated: Jul-22-11 12:59 AM EST --

I own an Immersion Research Double-D dry suit. I've had it for a few years, but don't need to use it that often. It's probably been out on the water 6-8 times.

When I first got it, I don't recall any leaking.

Roughly two years ago, I noticed it leaking a lot around the feet. I later found and patched a sizable hole in the boot which I figured was the source of the problem.

About a year and a half ago, I sent it to IR for gasket replacement, got it back with no reported or apparent issues.

At the end of last season I noticed that my arms were wet after paddling in surf for a few hours. At the time I figured it was just water pounding through the wrist gaskets.

Early this season, during some rescue practice and felt water coming in the legs. I would describe this as a dangerous amount of water - to the point that hauling it around would start impeding rescues. I couldn't find any holes and my bootie patches were holding just fine. Since it was wet inside and out anyway, I ran water into the suit. I then held it up and watched as the water ran right through the material at pretty much any place on the suit.

I sent it back to IR a second time and they tested it. The outcome - "The material is pretty much worn out." There really wasn't an option to fix it, and I was offered a replacement at cost.

So now I have some questions before making that decisions:

1. Is this lifespan of a drysuit normal? IR claims that this suit was a three-layer material and their new one is a four-layer which might have a longer life.

2. Should I have expected them to test this when I sent it in for gasket replacement? I expect that testing at that time would have revealed some issue.

3. Is "It's worn out, buy another one." a reasonable response from them?

4. Is this consistent with drysuits from other manufacturers?

Thanks in advance for any comments.

Two additions:

1. I was not the original owner of this suit. A detail which may or may not be critical.

I bought the suit from the Paddling.net classifieds. When I received it, it looked absolutely brand new. No holes, no creases, no wear to the gaskets, no wear to the booties etc.

I can also say that the suit worked very well when I first used it, so I don't think it was previously abused.

2. I was previously unaware that drysuits should (need?) to be treated with some form of DWR. After reading about this, I would understand if the suit was not perfectly waterproof after some years. I would expect this to manifest as water seeping through the seat on an extended paddle, not water running through the suit.

This raises another question - is the lack of a DWR the culprit? If so, might it be restored now? If anyone can say with certainty that the DWR treatment is essential and the lack of such would result in complete failure of the suit, then I can't make any claim that this is IR's fault.

For those who have had suits for many years, do you treat them yearly or more?

I have had my Kokatat GoreTex for 11 years. I have worn it some 150 times.

It does not leak.

So I am not up to date on drysuit technology these days. Mine went back to Kokatat once to replace all gaskets and convert to booties.

Only 6 to 8 times is not normal
My first drysuit, a Gore-tex Stohlquist back when they still made those, developed leaks last year, after 7 years of use. While I don’t need to use a drysuit as often as paddlers in places like ME, WA, northern CA, etc., I used it a lot more often than 6 to 8 times. More than 60 to 80 times, in fact.

I think they owe you a replacement suit if they don’t repair it. That’s assuming you didn’t truly abuse it??? Does the suit fit you well or is it too small? Did you walk around in the drysuit socks without an overboot?

On the surface, it doesn’t sound right
Things I can’t tell from your post are 1) how old is the suit? and 2) how did you store it?

Here’s a quote from the hang tag off my suit (Stohlquist)

" Never transport in trunk of car. Years of steady use cannot do the damage that can occur in as little as a half hour on a hot afternoon in the trunk of car."

I was surprised to read that, but it makes sense when I consider how the layers are made in the first place.

I think delamination is what you have with your suit, the question is what caused it? Was it a poorly made fabric, or was it stored in a way that would age the product without use?

If you feel you took proper care of the suit, I’d contact John Weld at IR. His contact info is on their website, under the customer service/IR Guarantee tab.

that’s ridiculous
a lot of my friends, my son, and I have NRS Extremes, not the best, but realistically priced. My son and I went 150 freshwater (whitewater outings) before his zipper broke. Had minor seepage by then, and sold the suits for $100 to a guy who runs cl. 4-5 drops but is only out for maybe an hour at a clip. Bought 2 new ones, and have gone 2 light seasons, and they’re like new. I store them in a closet, use zip-lube and rubber dressing once a season as well.

That’s why I bought a Kokatat
When I was researching different drysuits many of them had a certain time period that the suit would be good for, Kokatat didn’t state any time period and everyone who has had one always says how good their customer service is. This made their higher price worth it for me.

Fit and use
I’d say it fits me well. I don’t expect I was stressing any seems or the material. Their fit was actually one of the reasons I really liked that suit vs. other brands.

I kept the walking around in it to a minimum and always wore shoes or neoprene booties over the feet when I did. Even so, if the feet leaked, I wouldn’t be surprised and would think re-coating or maybe replacement would be in order.

Storage habits
That’s really good to know, since it doesn’t seem that unlikely to me that a drysuit might be in the bag of kayak stuff and taken along on mid-summer days when it wasn’t needed and thus left in a trunk.

It was generally stored in a plastic bin in the garage. Not temperature or humidity controlled, but protected and not where I would expect it to get excessively hot. Though it traveled with me occasionally, I cannot think of a time where it would have been left in the vehicle on a hot day - typically if the drysuit was out, hot was not part of the day’s description.

The guy I talked to on the phone did mention rolling it rather than folding. I often did roll it, but I’m sure at times it was loosely folded. I don’t think it would have been folded and re-folded nearly enough to breakdown entire layers of material though.

Everyone I’ve talked to or overheard has nothing but great things to say about Kokatat. I get the impression that they go well beyond standard warranty expectations. It makes me wonder if I’m a bit skewed regarding Immersion Research’s response because I have a strong impression that Kokatat’s would have been more favorable.

I wore my Kokatat out…
I wore out my Kokatat Goretex suit in about 6 years…wearing it only in the winter. I thought the Goretex was delaminating and sent it back to Kokatat for warranty evaluation and they told me it was worn from normal use (and therefore not a warranty issue unfortunately). it wore out around my lats under the arms from rubbing / torso rotation.

so it can be done…

NRS eVent
While Kokatat has superior customer service from everything I heard, eVent fabric used by NRS has much higher breathability than GoreTex.

This finding was made by the US Army Research Labs.

How does NRS customer service stack up?

No warranty on eVent?
Has anyone been able to find ANY warranty information on eVent fabric? I’ve checked their site and several others and found nothing. If they really believe in their product, they should stand behind it like Gore does with Gore-Tex. Breathability is great, but durability is more important, IMO.

Gore-Tex has the best warranty in the business, which is one of the reasons I choose it for much of my outdoor clothing. Because of their manufacturing standards, you’re guaranteed to get garments that are waterproof and if the fabric ever fails, they’re replaced at no charge. Been there, done that.

Fabric failure or wear?

– Last Updated: Jul-22-11 7:32 AM EST –

Gortex guarantees their fabric and if there is a fabric problem, Kokatat often replaces the suit. My brother sent in a Gortex suit for booties to Kokatat and this suit was beat. No fabric problems but just beat and worn. Kokatat sold him a new suit at cost. So Immersion Research did the same for you which is great. These companies certainly don't have to do that but it's nice and gains customer loyalty.

Gortex is tough fabric and this suit was over 10 years old. Aquaseal on the underarms, worn spots, several seal generations, dirty but never leaked to any danger point.

Remember folks, this person noted
the suit was purchased second hand. No telling how it was stored or for how long by the first owner. Those are risks when purchasing used gear, and need to take that into account before making negative remarks regarding original vendors.

Even how it fits the individual, with regards to where rub points are, such as body shape and mass in different areas or even ones heighth.

All my neoprene and dry gear are hung on padded hangers when not in use.

the post was edited after we

– Last Updated: Jul-22-11 8:37 AM EST –

wrote and before you wrote..so you might keep that in mind before commenting on others comments

We can't "remember" what was not there until this morning.

I work for a company that makes and sells DWR, and it will not solve problems with the breathable membrane, which is generally on the inside. The DWR will help it take longer for the outer fabric to wet out, which allows the suit to breathe as designed. Cleaning the suit properly with a low detergent cleaner specifically made for Goretex/ eVent is as important as occasionally spraying on the DWR.



dry and dryer
At the end of last season I noticed that my arms were wet after paddling in surf for a few hours.


If you know a drysuit that wouldnt let in some water or trap some sweat after several hours of surf, let me know. I don’t think it exists. I expect some wetness after several hours in surf, though my Kokatat G-T drysuit is 12 years old. I dont recall ever staying 100% dry after several hours of surf.

Plastic bag storage
I know for a fact that plastic hangers outgas and destroy drysuit gaskets. Wonder if storing in a plastic bag would hurt the material the same way?

I was also told not to put 303 on Goretex, that it destroys the waterproofness. This is hearsay, but might offer another clue.

Also, if you’re the second owner, I wouldn’t expect the company to provide any kind of warranty service, such as fixing or replacing free. Lifetime warranties generally are only valid for the original purchaser.

My drysuit was packaged in plastic
I’m having a hard time thinking the manufacturer would use packaging materials detrimental to the product contained within. I suppose it could happen…

not doubting you
But what is the source of that fact?